A mobile app and clinical website to support people living with long Covid has been launched in 27 NHS trusts.
The app will initially be available to patients at the trusts including the Salford Royal, Pennine Acute Hospitals, Liverpool University Hospitals, Airedale and Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trusts.
Developed by ELAROS in partnership with the University of Leeds, Leeds Teaching Hospitals and Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trusts, the app allows patients to track their own recovery from long Covid.
They can self-report their symptoms and the impacts their symptoms are having on their day-to-day life. The app takes the user through a series of questions to record their health status before and after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
Patients will be regularly asked to update the information for the app to track their illness and recovery.
Jenny Davison, physiotherapist and long Covid rehabilitation service coordinator with Leeds Community Healthcare Trust, said: “A patient will be able to update the app at different stages in their recovery – and it will show them and their clinician how they are improving and what areas might need more targeted input.
“It provides an excellent visual demonstration of the data in graph format for patient to see at a glance the improvements they have made.”
The system has been designed to support NHS rehabilitation teams managing large numbers of patients diagnosed with the condition.
It is based on the Covid-19 Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale (C19-YRS), a questionnaire developed by Project lead Dr Manoj Sivan and his team during the first wave of the pandemic to aid the diagnosis and assessment of long covid symptoms. C19-YRS has now been recommended by NHS England in their national guidance for post-covid syndrome assessment clinics.
The public cannot directly download the app, instead patients will be invited to download it by their doctor or a member of their rehabilitation team.
ELAROS in currently in discussions with several other trusts to expand use of the app.
Dr Sivan, associate professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds and consultant in rehabilitation medicine at Leeds Teaching Hospital, said: “Long covid is a new condition, and it is causing long-term health problems for many patients. Given the scale of the problem, it is likely to strain healthcare services and burden the economy.
“We need efficient systems to manage the growing caseload and to standardise care across the NHS. The app and associated web portal will allow healthcare staff to rapidly assess and triage patients.
“Patients and families can also see their progression and their response to treatments.”
Long Covid refers to symptoms of Covid-19 that last longer than four weeks after being diagnosed with the virus, including breathlessness, brain fog, pain and distress.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics in April this year revealed that during four weeks in February and March, more than one million people in the UK were experiencing long covid – including 697,000 people who had experienced symptoms for at least 12 weeks. Around 70,000 had been ill for a year.
Professor Paul O’Brien, chief executive of ELAROS, added: “The digital nature of the system will allow us to rapidly improve the clinical tool in partnership with healthcare professionals as we learn more about the condition.
“Our aim is to help healthcare teams provide the most effective support for patients recovering from long Covid.”